Everything is free to move across borders, except… some lesser things.

It’s a long-standing principle of law, in the “developed” world at least, that “freedom” means the ability to move across borders without hindrance or restriction. This is commonly called “globalization”. Borders fade away and become irrelevant; non-discrimination becomes a defining, enlightened principle; and the world becomes one cosmopolitan village. Except, of course, that this otherwise laudable, advanced, cosmopolitan version of “freedom” applies only to inanimate material objects. To be fair, it does also apply to immaterial objects such as transfers of capital that exist only as abstract ideas, entries in spreadsheets or bits of information.

But one only needs to try to catch a boat from Indonesia to Australia to find out how much this well-established “freedom” and crowning glory of inanimate objects applies to living, breathing, feeling, thinking human beings.

Nonetheless, though it may be a great hypocrisy, this “freedom” of inanimate objects to move across borders is well-established. Such is the world we live in, where consumer goods such as cars and washing machines have advanced rights that humans do not have. This principle is enshrined in international treaties such as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and the various protocols adhered to be all member States of the World Trade Organisation.

However, this glorious liberty granted to inanimate objects, and even abstract objects, does not quite apply to all objects. Exceptions can be made, provided there is a special reason for it.

And, our world, divided into nation-states, is so organised that the highest decision-making authorities in the world pertain to geographic regions established largely by war, conquest and colonisation. So there is no more sanctified reason to limit freedoms than the military interests of States. In particular, weapons of war have much less freedom to flow across borders. The flow of weapons is tightly regulated — or at least, when it suits a State’s interest to do so.

Such is the idiosyncrasy and backwardness of human civilization in the early 21st century. Rights are given to inanimate objects — even abstract immaterial objects — but not sentient beings. Power lies with a tumultuous collection of clashing commonwealths, whose military interests are the highest good. Destructive weapons plague the world, but weapons are almost alone among inanimate objects in being subject to regulation.

Weapons are deprived of the rights accorded to other inanimate objects, and in this lie with other lower classes of things, such as hazardous waste, disease carriers, dangerous chemicals, plants, animals, and human beings.

The lower classes of things

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